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Peru Issues Final Report on Poisoning Deaths by Organophosphate Pesticide; Families Appeal to UN to Hold Bayer Responsible
(from September 3, 2002)

In Tauccamarca, Peru, October 1999, 24 children were killed and another 18 injured by exposure to organophosphate, Methyl parathion. Nearly three years later the Peruvian government began taking actions. After a nine-month investigation, the Peruvian Congressional Subcommittee concluded that there is significant evidence of administrative and criminal responsibility on the part of Ministry of Agriculture, and of criminal responsibility on the part of the agrochemical company Bayer.

Methyl parathion, known as "Folidol", has been aggressively marketed by Bayer to small Andean farmers with little or no accessible safety information. Many farmers are illiterate and speak only an indigenous language. They do not Spanish, the language on the labels. Methyl parathion is a potent neurotoxic agent that kills bugs by disrupting vital transmitters in their nervous systems, and is extremely toxic to humans.

The findings come after the families of the dead and poisoned children appealed to the government after filing suit against Bayer. The efforts of the Tauccamarca families and allied Peruvian nongovernmental organizations have been backed by a wave of public support over the poisonings, and have won important regulatory changes. On February 18, 2002, the Peruvian National Agrarian Health Service issued a resolution (RJ 039 2002) suspending the imports of all pesticides classified by the World Health Organization as Ia (extremely hazardous) or Ib (highly hazardous). The families have also written to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan requesting that he exclude Bayer from the UN Global Compact, a UN partnership with corporations who pledge to abide by human rights and environmental principles, based on Bayer's actions and inactions with regard to the children's deaths and poisonings in Peru.

For more information about the struggle of the Tauccamaca families and for information on how you can help please contact:

Erika Rosenthal - Pesticide Action Network Latin America (Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas en América Latina, RAPAL)
Tel: (510) 550-6752
Email: erosenthal@earthjustice.org
or
Luis Gomero - Red de Acción en Alternativas al uso de Agroquímicos (RAAA). Lima, Peru.
Telefax (511) 3375170 / 4257955
Email:
raaaper@terra.com.pe